Linguistic dark matter
aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 20 09:43:40 UTC 2010
The search, in fact, is already done at ngrams site. You can see a
string of date ranges at the bottom of the page when looking at the
trend graph. The breakdowns are not always useful and I am not sure if
they can be adjusted other than going to "advanced search" in Google
Books. Looking at "shyster, Shyster" results (case-sensitive), there are
a couple of small bumps prior to 1860, so it's hard to discern the
earliest occurrence. And the automatically generated ranges are not
helpful--1800-1905 for "shyster" and 1800-1868 for "Shyster"
(apparently, going by quintiles).
But the graph is also inaccurate--there are hits for 1843, 1849, but
they are not reflected in the graph at all, even though there are
several minor bumps recorded. These bumps correspond to single hits (all
mislabeled, but that's not relevant). So the other two also should have
But there is also an odd 1819 cite. It's not an OCR error--the word
"shyster" is on the page. But it could not possibly be the same word
that appears in all the other places...
The book is from 1819, but the text is much older.
Hallamshire: The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield in
the County of York. London: 1819
ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE PRECEDING CHAPTER AND OF THE
HISTORY AND MANNERS OF THE ELIZABETHAN AGE. p. 84/2
> My shyster of Pembroke hath wylled me to rem'ber her humble dewty to
> my Lorde and you, wyth desyre of hysdayly blessynge. Assoone as she is
> able she wyll dowe yt her selfe.
The date on the letter is 1575. Could "sister" really have been spelled
"shyster" in 1575? All the other words with an "i" in modern spelling,
appear to have a "y" in this piece. Or was it something else that it
meant? I am clueless, as usual, about such things...
On 12/19/2010 11:47 AM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> One does a search in Google Books.
> Fred Shapiro
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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